So here he is — the victor. It's John Guzowski AKA "Nard_Dogg 1," who came out on top due to his uncanny ability to click correct boxes.
It's somewhat of a tradition here at Deadspin that John's prize is one free post today, where he can talk about whatever he wants. That's so much better than cash or a T-shirt or a charitable donation. Off he goes!
Let me begin by saying it is an honor and a pleasure to be posting on Deadspin. Also, I must give required shout-outs to Kudler, McMaster, Cotter, and the Weasel. It was tough to pick just one thing to talk about in my post. So, I decided to write about what I know best: the pain and agony associated with being a Cleveland sports fan. Thanks again to AJ for letting me post.
Fear and Loathing in Cleveland
It's not easy being a fan from Cleveland. Every sports fan knows our history of heartbreak. John Elway leading the Broncos 98 yards past the Browns and to the Super Bowl, Michael Jordan shooting over Craig Ehlo, the Browns moving to Baltimore, Jose Mesa blowing the Game 7 save in 1997, the Tribe collapsing ten years later after having a three game lead over Boston in the ALCS, the list goes on and on. Clevelanders talk about these events like they are battle scars. They speak up if they were there in person to witness the tragedy, or they will have a story about where they were watching when "it" happened.
Growing up with these events happening every so often, Cleveland fans develop a certain type of mentality. It's a loser mentality. Every year at the beginning of the season, there is hope. But eventually, that hope turns to doubt, and that doubt turns to anger, and the anger turns into depression. Sometimes this cycle begins early in the season, and sometimes it doesn't happen until playoff time. By now, many have refused to put their faith in anything. That is, until it looks like a good time to jump on the bandwagon.
The one feeling that always escapes Cleveland fans is the pride and relief of being on top. Winning a championship. Being able to hold your head high for an entire offseason, talk smack to whoever you want, and to hear people refer to Cleveland as something other than "The Mistake by the Lake." Just to be able to forget the past and enjoy the present.
That is what people from other cities might not understand. Boston fans who dealt with the Red Sox Curse for years at least got the relief of seeing the Celtics and Patriots build amazing teams. Cubs fans have suffered for a long time (the only team with a longer drought than the Indians), but had the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears and nearly a decade of dominance by the Bulls. Philadelphia fans, until last October, were our closest allies when it came to anguish. But they got to experience the feeling. The feeling of walking around all winter wearing their World Series Champions gear with pride. For Cleveland fans, it seems as though the closer we get to that feeling, the harder it is to capture.
When year after year you go without celebrating a championship, it begins to wear on you as a fan. The optimistic always look towards next year. The pessimistic wonder why they even bother spending time, money, and any interest in these teams. But one thing is for certain: this long journey as a fan is something that everyone from the city can identify with. Even though it has been a struggle for my entire lifetime, it is the common struggle that all Clevelanders know. If you are in another city and see a stranger wearing a Tribe hat, you have to say something to them. Chances are, in minutes you will be swapping stories of the torture of the 1995 series loss to the Braves.
This is true of sports fans from all cities. It is one of the reasons why we are fans. We are part of a group. A bunch of people who know the players and the history. Either you are from there, your parents grew up there, or you live there now. No matter where you are from or how your team is doing that season, you can collectively celebrate wins or agonize over losses.
This year, the Cavs are in a position that no Cleveland team has been in since the mid-90s Indians reigned. They are at the top of the league. They are the favorites. The ones with the target on their backs. This is the greatest season in franchise history. All Cavs fans should be enjoying every game, every win, every LBJ dunk. Yet, when you read anything online or in the newspaper, it is apparent that a lot of Clevelanders are not living in the moment. They are wary that something - anything - will go wrong during the Cavs' playoff run. There are criticisms of Mike Brown's coaching, debates on who is getting too much playing time or who is getting too little playing time, and discussions about the Cavs' many weaknesses. They talk about where Lebron might be going next year and what it might take to keep him here instead.
Instead of agonizing over these small details, or wondering about The King's future, or criticizing every coaching decision, the fans simply need to look around the NBA and realize: the Cavs are on top. Regardless of what happens from here on out, the Cavs are the team no one wants to play come postseason time. They are the team that is nearly impossible to beat on their home floor. They are something to be proud of. Cleveland fans: enjoy the ride. Because you never know when it is going to stop, or when it is going to happen again.
If the Cavs do win the crown this year, it will be a time of celebration in Cleveland. Fans will be able to forget about the LBJ to NY rumors and the city's marred sporting past. Finally, they will be able to revel in the fact that they are champions.
But if they don't win this year, I might be depressed all summer.
Thanks John! And tremendous foresight in picking UNC over Michigan State. Give John a round of applause, however that's done in the comments section.